Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ask What You Can Bring To the Evil Dead Remake

Film criticism is not about absolutes. Judging art is expressing an opinion, relating how you responded to something. How your neighbor responds to the same thing is a different kettle of fish, and doesn't make them right or wrong. Our responses are filtered by life experience, where we are at any given moment, and what's troubling us at that time. Because we're all on different simultaneous journeys, it makes sense that opinions are often at loggerheads.

I walked out of the EVIL DEAD remake feeling underwhelmed and surprisingly flat. Yes, the special effects were solid, and the film was clearly made with love and passion, but it was a slog for me. At the forty-five minute mark, I wanted it to finish so I could leave and feel the sun on my face. I didn't engage with it, I didn't bond with the characters, and their issues didn't capture my sympathy or empathy.  

For me, the original, which I admire a lot, was more kinetic under Sam Raimi's direction, and the orchestration of character types made for a much more enjoyable time. The special effects were less sophisticated than they are in this remake, but I actually found them more real, more immediate.

The writers in this remake take a few new turns by creating a character struggling with a drug problem, and they half succeed marrying drug rehabilitation with demonic possession for amusement, but it didn't make the film any more interesting to me than if they hadn't done it at all. Still, points for trying.

An 'Ash'/Bruce Campbell-type character is sorely missed here because he was the original's brightest spark, a one-man army who never took the silly premise too seriously. In this revival, there's nobody you could safely call a 'hero', although a 'Final Girl' does turn up (actually, emerge!) when everything's pretty much put to bed. So, does that make her a real 'Final Girl'? And come to think of it, what the hell is a 'Final Girl' even doing in EVIL DEAD?

The producers totally wimp out on recreating the famous Tree Rape scene from the original, content to splash blood and guts all over the place, but becoming coy when a little penetration by flora is underway, so screw them(!) The replaying of spooky incantations from the first film over the end credits simply reminded me how great the original was and how unnecessary this dash-for-cash is.

My opinion only, and I'm sticking to it. You'll stick to yours, I'm sure, and so you should. What's an opinion if you don't honor it with conviction?

And that leads me to this thought, which works for me: When you repaint the Mona Lisa, only the painters profit.

Over the years, my favorite horror films have remained pretty consistent.

Everything we love is flawed, is it not?, which is often why we love it in the first place.

Flaws give us an entry point, an opening that welcomes us with our own flaws.

What we love as much as the film itself is what we personally bring to it.

I couldn't bring much to the EVIL DEAD remake, but I always manage to bring plenty to these beauties:

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